Differences Between Paid And Organic Search In SEO

Differences Between Paid And Organic Search In SEO


Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a sub-section of Digital Marketing. For English speaking countries, Google is typically the largest search engine with 70%+ market share.


Bing and Yahoo are typically the next biggest players. Google is also the biggest search engine for many non-English speaking countries but there are exceptions like the search engines Yandex being the biggest in Russia and Baidu in China.



Even though SEO is free, in that you don’t pay search engines for clicks, it does incur a cost of time and resources for you and/or your team.


Organic search (SEO) requires patience and persistence. The fruits of your labour today can be enjoyed in the weeks and months ahead. Aside from being free, SEO has approximately three times the amount of traffic compared to paid search.


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With this in mind, it’s important to set expectations for all involved including key stakeholders like marketing managers, CEOs, clients etc.



Paid search can work together with SEO and is particularly useful at the beginning of SEO work and where there is a proven return on investment. 


Paid search is Google’s number one revenue earner and appears above organic listings. People tend to click in the organic listings more because they have more trust in them compared to ads.


While paid search can provide a great return on investment, sometimes the introduction of more competitors can increase the Cost Per Click which in turn reduces the return on investment. As a result of this, some marketers decide to invest more in SEO.


#1 Both require Keyword Research

If you want to rank on search engines, you first need to know which keywords to rank for.


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#2 Both require relevant Landing Pages

Once you know which keywords to target, you’ll need to optimize web pages to make them relevant. You can use the same landing pages to target SEO and paid search.

organic search

#3 Search Engine Traffic

Both result in organic search engine traffic which can help a business grow by meeting it’s business objectives.


In addition to the similarities to SEO, it’s not uncommon for marketers to combine both organic and paid search as part of there marketing mix. When starting from scratch, SEO can take 6-12 months to see worthwhile progress, so marketers often turn to paid search to get momentum and test out the market.



When good SEO progress is made, many marketers continue with paid search, either to target the keywords they are not ranking well for, or in some cases to complement the keywords that rank well. The latter depends on the businesses’ circumstances and search engine strategy.


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